So, yeah, it’s been quiet here. We’ve been quite busy. And, in the past two weeks, I’ve had a crazy thing happen to me.
So, remember in my last post when I talked about bartending for the first time and how I wanted to do it again?
I spent all spring basically saying that, but not really doing anything about it. I was lazy, admittedly, and it felt weird to look for a job like that when I had a day job. Besides, who’d want to take the chance on a guy with no service industry experience?
Also, I was going out less and less. I was trying to watch my spending, for one, and also just enjoying being at home.
I also kept saying I needed a new day job. “I’m going to work on my resume,” I’d say, “and look for a new job.” Only I didn’t. Partly out of fear I’d be fired if my job found out (not likely, but not completely unfounded) but mostly out of (again) laziness. I didn’t like my job, but I didn’t realize how MUCH I didn’t like it, and I was in a rut.
Then, two weeks ago yesterday I got called into my boss’ office and laid off. One week severance for every year I’d worked there, so 10 weeks, fortunately. Also, we were 2 weeks behind on pay, so I still had a full paycheck and half of another coming.
That was a bit of a mistake, since it meant my whole drive home, trying to use my traffic app (I love Waze), I kept getting text notifications.
Still, I felt loved. And better yet: happy. I’d always imagined being laid off would be the worst thing in the world to happen to me, but instead it’s been one of the best.
One of the Facebook messages I got was from Tom Brown, who had recruited me to bartend at the Passenger NYE. He told me to come see him.
The next day I wandered over to Slipstream in Logan Circle. Tom was there and we chatted. He thought I might be a fit there but didn’t have the hours to offer me, so he told me to go meet his friend Ric at Dino’s Grotto. He needed a new bartender there. I’d never been there, but I’d heard good things about it, and later that night I made my way there. We chatted a bit, and Ric told me to come back Sunday morning at 11 AM for a brunch shift.
Here comes Sunday. I show up in dress pants, button down shirt, dress shoes. Overdressed, obviously. And also poor choice of shoes, I was sliding everywhere. I didn’t bring a notebook or pen, but Ric had one for me. I didn’t bring a wine key or lighter. I was unprepared.
Unlike most of Ric’s new bartenders, who have service experience but not cocktail & liquor knowledge, I was the opposite. So we started off slowly. He showed me how things should be, showed me when I made mistakes, and basically just let me practice.
Tuesday I was back, and I did better. Still not what you’d call good, probably, but better. By the end, he said to come back Thursday for a final training day. I came in, working with a different bartender, and took the lead on most of the things while she made sure I didn’t completely screw up.
Friday night I worked with Ric. He liked what he saw, I was doing much better.
Sunday I worked my first solo bar shift for brunch and dinner. In the morning I was scared I was going to screw something up; there’s so much to prepare, especially with things like mimosas and bloody marys which are only ordered at brunch. I made some mistakes, got made fun of for not having the right shoes (which were on order), but I got through the day and 13 hours of work.
Then Wednesday night I got called in, worked what’ll be one of my shifts from here on out (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday). I had my shoes, I knew better what to do, I felt more confident – and I think it definitely showed in my service. The server working upstairs in the dining room said I made more money then the previous bartender would have as she wouldn’t have worked the room as well (and that I probably stole at least one of his tables by doing that!).
So I’m learning. It’s fun. It’s creative, it’s physical, it’s demanding, and I like it a lot. I bought a nice new wine key and I’m about to buy a back-up. If you’re around DC, come by Shaw (9th St NW between T & U) and visit Dino’s Grotto. We have great food and great drinks. And you might be able to tell me what mistake I’m making this time.
(And maybe, sometime, we’ll be able to do some Scofflaw’s Den type related activities there!)